Child bride dies of internal bleeding in Yemen

SANAA Thu Apr 8, 2010 3:18pm EDT

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SANAA (Reuters) - A 13-year-old Yemeni girl died three days after marrying a man twice her age, due to internal bleeding following intercourse, a Yemeni human rights group and UNICEF said.

The girl's death comes amid ongoing debate on whether to set a minimum age for brides in Yemen, where human rights groups say one in every three girls is married before the age of 18.

Elham Mahdi Shoi died in the west of the Arab state earlier this month, said Sisters Arab Forum (SAF).

Sigrid Kaag, regional director for UNICEF, said in a statement that the United Nations child agency was "dismayed by the death of yet another child bride in Yemen."

"Elham is a martyr of abuse of children's lives in Yemen and a clear example of what is justified by the lack of limits on the age of marriage," SAF said in a statement.

The case of a nine-year-old Yemeni child bride, Nujood Ali, was thrust into the spotlight after it was reported by a Yemeni newspaper and a French journalist wrote her memoir, which was published in March.

In the harrowing memoir, Nujood tells how at age 9 she was forced to marry a man three times her age, raped and beaten, then made Yemeni history by getting a divorce two years ago.

As suggested in the memoir, child brides in Yemen are fueled by a combination of a lack of women's rights, economic hardships and a culture that deplores bringing families shame, making it difficult to speak out.

(Reporting by Mohammed Sudam; writing by Tamara Walid)

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